I spoke with BBC outlets on Thursday and Friday about the bumbling Russian propaganda attempt to explain the trip of two men, suspected of being military intelligence officers, to Salisbury in southern England in March — on the day that Novichok nerve agent was used to poison former spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

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This is a huge propaganda own goal. I do not understand why the Russians did not stay quiet after the UK, including Prime Minister May, revealed CCTV footage of the two men. They can’t be extradited. There will be no trial in the UK, so attention would have ebbed.

What they have now done is held up a mockery, because the interview was so blatantly staged, but brings back the focus and says Moscow perhaps should be answerable and exposed to more US sanctions.

Explanation? Vladimir Putin was rattled. The Russians did not know the extent of the CCTV footage connecting the men to Moscow’s services.

Listen to BBC Radio Wiltshire

One of the worst cover stories I’ve seen in 30 years of studying intelligence services.

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